Christmas Pasta Salad

Thanks to its festive colors, this pasta salad will shine bright on your holiday table. For the vibrant green dressing, we jazzed up traditional basil pesto with spinach and almonds. A couple tablespoons of white wine vinegar go into the whole dish for extra tang. The pesto can be made three days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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Ingredients

Kosher salt

2 heads broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into florets  

1 pound mezze rigatoni or other short tubular pasta  

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil 

1 1/2 cups baby spinach  

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce) 

1/4 cup almonds 

1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves 

Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons) 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more for serving 

2 roasted red peppers, drained and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups) 

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and thinly sliced  

8 ounces small mozzarella balls (or pearls) 

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender and bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the cold water to stop the cooking. Let sit until cool, then drain and set aside.
  2. Return the water in the pot to a boil and cook the rigatoni according to the package directions for al dente. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Toss the pasta with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to coat evenly and refrigerate until cooled completely, about 10 minutes.  
  3. Meanwhile, add the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil to a blender with the spinach, Parmesan, almonds, basil, lemon juice, chives and 1/4 cup water and puree until completely smooth. Pour the pesto over top of the pasta and add the reserved broccoli, red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss gently until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with more chopped chives. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.